Square foot gardening – First year and initial thoughts

After my huge success with growing my own basil last year, I decided to garden again this year. But a lot more seriously. In fact, I put down the money and effort to build my own raised beds and attempt square foot gardening. In case you haven’t heard, square foot gardening is a method revolutionized by Mel Bartholomew. It basically is a way of growing a lot of crops in a small space.


As you can see, I don’t have alot of gardening space. This is pretty much what you get when you live in the city. My raised beds are also not as high as I would like them to be. However due to financial constraints, this is as best as I can do for this year. Hopefully I can eventually build something higher. 🙂

I went ahead and started planting before buying the book (updated version here) so I am not optimizing my space. Hey there is always another year 🙂

So why square foot gardening?


– Lots of crops in a small space (as opposed to row gardening)

– Able to do crop rotation in same space (spring & fall crops)

– Easy weeding (Mel’s mix which is the ‘soil’ for the raised beds is so light that you can easily pick out the weeds. In addition, anything growing that is not in the space that you know that you have planted is automatically a weed! That’s awesome for a newbie gardener who still cannot distinguish how the baby plants look like)

– Neat. LOL You gotta admit, it looks much neater than row gardening.

– A great way if your soil sucks. Afterall, you are making your own ‘soil’ so the current soil doesn’t really matter.


– Expensive. The first year is expensive for me with buying the various components to make Mel’s mix. Add to that the costs of building the bed, seeds, plants, etc, it all adds up pretty fast.

– Mel’s mix requires 5 different types of compost. Why? As this is an intensive way to garden, you want to provide a very nutrient rich environment. Unfortunately I was only able to procure 2 types of compost (mushroom and cow manure).


I love square foot gardening! You can see in the picture that 2 of my beds were not in the square foot format and I think they are not as productive. Next year, I’m converting them all to grid form. If you are on the fence regarding this, make a small 4 ft by 4 ft box and try it for a year. 🙂 Perhaps you will get hooked like I did!

Note: I made a modification of not having a screen at the bottom of the raised bed. I wanted the deeper root plants to be able to go deeper as my beds are only 6 inches high.

* Not affiliated to Mel Bartholomew and all opinions are my own.